About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.
I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.
That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!
In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.
For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.
In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works. Continue reading
Regular readers of my blog might remember a couple of posts in which I talk about how other artists inspire me as a writer, even when their works of art come from other creative disciplines.
Musicians who can pick up an instrument, anytime, anywhere, and start playing beautiful music are mind-blowing to me. I am also in awe of singers who can not only carry a tune, but bring such depth and complexity to a song by smartly using their “instrument”. It is also a joy to behold when an actor can take a script and breathe such life into a role that I am able to completely suspend judgement and believe in a fictional character.
I especially envy visual artists who can take a pencil and a sheet of paper and produce picture-perfect images worthy of a gallery showing.
In high school, while certain teachers droned on in that Charlie Brown teacher’s voice, I remember looking over at my artist friends during class, pencils blazing over whatever piece of paper (or flat surface) was at their disposal. Blank pages were magically transformed into masterpieces with images of eyes, faces or pets from different angles, and all from the perspective of their mind’s eye.
There was seemingly no struggle to their process. They did not stare at a blank page, think hard about it, draw, erase, draw, erase and start over. It just seemed to flow out of them like they were on auto-pilot. They made it look effortless. Continue reading
As much as I have spoken about spending my days writing as my ultimate retirement plan, the fear of writer’s block is still ever present. Even though I have hundreds of pages of notes stashed away in journals, file folders and on flash drives, I am not immune to the possibility of freezing up.
Back in 2002, shortly after my father passed away, the little writer’s voice went silent. I am not talking about a short break or a little case of laryngitis, the voice disappeared completely. Words were not coming. Inspiration virtually dried up. I actually ended up deleting my web site (my blog before blogs became popular) because I had no new content to add.
One Sunday morning, I went to the National Gallery of Canada, here in Ottawa, for a tour of the permanent collection. While I had no specific purpose other than to enjoy the beauty of the masterpieces, there was a glimmer of hope that it might stir up some creative juices.
In touring the gift shop at the Gallery, I noticed some beginner tools for painting. Something spoke to me, perhaps it was the memory of arts and crafts when I was a kid and thoroughly enjoying the creative process even back then. Around the same time, I was marvelling at the Bob Ross painting shows on PBS, demonstrating how to create works of art in just one episode. Put those two factors together and I became the proud new owner of a set of brushes and a few bottles of paint.
The painting that started it all was this one:
When looking at the result and amazing myself, thinking there might be a seedling of talent to work with, I started to read up about painting with acrylics. The painting journey began. Continue reading